The first clip is just some of the raw footage I shot.
The second video, below, is more instructive as it features my artful narration:
Our plane leaves London’s Heathrow airport at 6:15 pm. The flight is only 50 minutes but we lose an hour on the time change. Cab to Marriott on Stadhouderskade costs about 38 euro ($52.82).
Around 10 pm, with the kids trying to sleep, I wander across the canal to check out the surrounding area. I walk through and around Leidseplein Square which is packed with nightlife: restaurants, bars, outdoor seating, and very crass young Europeans. I was a little bit disgusted actually.
Up early, eager to get going. We hit the Rijksmuseum, take the riverboat cruise around the city ($60 for the family), enjoy an amazing lunch at Singel 404 (“best sandwich in Amsterdam” according to Google), and explore the city for the rest of the day. Dinner was consumed at a slightly above average Italian place that is not worth linking to.
Breakfast was those famous Dutch pancakes (rather than the $40 pp buffet at the hotel). We ambled our way north slowly to the Dutch Resistance Museum (highly recommended for history buffs). We walked back south with the intention of avoiding the Red Light District but ended up going right through it! We just made sure the kids did not look at the products offered for sale in the store windows – and they didn’t see much, nor did we other than a lot of puerile, degenerate marijuana enthusiasm. More wandering through the streets. Stopped for Belgian frites near the wax museum. Rested up at the hotel. Went to see Anne Frank’s hiding place around 7 pm. The line is ridiculously long at other times – upwards of 2 hours we heard. We had to wait 45 minutes nonetheless. My wife and daughter really, really appreciated it because they have been reading The Diary of Anne Frank. No pics of that because it was nighttime and because I didn’t go in (to save my $13 admission!) Dinner at authentic and famous Dutch restaurant – Moeders – was expensive but worth every penny/euro.
Inez had to work in her Amsterdam office. I took the kids on the “tram” (they begged to ride it) up north to the Science Museum but it was closed. We settled for the adjacent Dutch Maritime Museum – which I found mediocre but my kids really enjoyed (my vote hasn’t counted….in years!) Walked all the way back through town. Lunched at the same Singel 404 because it was so darn good the first time and because there was no line at 3 pm for lunch. Back at the hotel I put the kids on the treadmill alongside me in the empty gym. Although a great hotel gym it was empty every day….because Europeans don’t work out! My kids each did 30 minutes on the treadmill which got me excited that they might conk out come bedtime! We met my wife and one of her colleagues (a French girl) for dinner at a highly rated Indonesian restaurant around 8 pm. The food was phenomenal and has whetted our appetites for more of this cuisine. (None of us had ever eaten it before.)
Inez was working again. The kids and I had another round of Dutch pancakes and riding the tram. We spent about 3.5 hours at the famed Science Museum before walking all the way back to the hotel – again, another deliberate effort by me to tire them out! – and catching a cab to the airport.
Amsterdam is definitely a great place to go. Probably a must see here in Europe even for people uninterested in the debauchery. But the city is not big and is very easy to get around in. So four days is almost enough to do it all. The only things we didn’t do were rent bikes (probably too dangerous for the kids), spend time at the big park (Vondelpark), tour the Heineken factory (Heineken tastes SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER in Amsterdam), and visit the wax museum. The city is actually very safe. The people speak enough English and are nice….EXCEPT when they get on their bicycles. They will run you and especially your small, clueless kids over at outrageous speeds. The bike lanes also feature lunatic motorbikes which for some unbeknownst reason do not have to drive on the streets! I was very close to taking a swing at some of these bicyclists for their appalling sense of “right of way”.
It’s a little bit expensive to come here but basically all of Europe is. Nonetheless, on a tight budget one can certainly find plenty to do and see in Amsterdam. My wife had to work in Amsterdam on Monday and Tuesday so her flight and two days at the Marriott were paid for. So we shelled out for 3 plane tickets from London and 2 hotel nights which I think together cost around $1,400. Cabs to and from the airport are always pricey but thankfully these were also “business expensed”.
Again, this is one of the major reasons we jumped at the opportunity to move to London – so we could travel all over Europe for much cheaper than we would be able to from New York.
We arrived home positively exhausted. Trips like these aren’t meant to be relaxing. We’re probably not going back to Amsterdam for a long, long time – if ever – so it made sense to try to cram as much sightseeing in as possible.
For our next trip we were thinking hard about going to Krakow, Poland over the Easter weekend. But now it looks more like we will do some of the English countryside, Stonehenge and whatnot.
Last night we booked tickets for an 8-day trip to Sicily this summer. This will certainly cost a lot more money (about $5,000?) even flying from within Europe.
But you know what? My wife and I have been eyeing this trip, and theoretically saving up for it, for 10 years now.
And it would cost twice as much if we flew there from New York in the summertime.
Oh yeah, and there’s been a whole lot more exciting stuff going on for us in London.
I just need a moment catch my breath…